DJI’s Osmo was an impressive piece of technology when it was first announced — bringing that silky, smooth drone like footage to the ground. Priced initially at $649, it was a huge cost-savings for people who wanted to ditch their $1000+ SteadiCams, but it was still too pricey for most hobby photographers to justify.
DJI is fixing that with the launch of the $299 Osmo Mobile.
For under $300, smartphone photographers can get the footage they are used to from a drone, but now with their smartphone camera.
It’s easy to use — set-up is simply taking it out of your purse (it’s about 6 inches tall) and turning it on. It uses Bluetooth to connect with the phone, and relies on the DJI Go app (the same one you’re used to using on your Phantom or Inspire) to control the settings.
It requires 3 hours to charge, but also lasts 3-4.5 hours on one charge.
There are 3 modes: panorama, long exposure, and time-lapse. It can shoot in traditional mode or selfie mode. And on newer phones, it also allows for ActiveTrack mode, so you can choose an object on your phone’s screen and the Osmo will follow it as you move around, rotating the gimbal to keep that object in the frame.
DJI’s Osmo Mobile not completely foolproof. Every time I tried to attempt a time-lapse video, as well as a few other non-timelapse video attempts, I got a message saying “save failed.”
I’m honestly not sure why this happened, and didn’t do much to investigate other than ensure I had enough memory storage on my phone (which I did). I just shot it again, and it usually worked the second time.
It wasn’t a huge deal, but I could see this being really frustrated if trying to shoot a moment you couldn’t repeat.
Of course, much of the camera quality itself depends not on Osmo but on the smartphone’s camera.
In this review, I used my iPhone 5 and noticed the iPhone camera had a hard time adjusting to different lighting or focus points while in operation. You’ll notice in the clips of the flowers, it can’t maintain what it’s focusing on.
I had the same issue when shooting the tree and watching the exposure change from the dark ground level to the bright sky. However, this was easily fixed by simply going into the settings and putting it in manual — locking the exposure.
My question is: would a hobbyist have the patience to learn the manual settings?
Don’t expect the same quality you would get from a $1000+ SteadiCam (DJI’s Ronin SteadiCam ranges from $1,399 to $2,499). After all, this is just $300. In the footage, you can definitely tell where I took a step. It’s not terrible, and it’s a million times better than no Osmo at all, but it’s not perfect either.
This isn’t a replacement to Ronin — it’s simply bringing that type of technology to a hobbyist level.
The DJI Osmo Mobile is priced at a fantastic price point. For around $300 you can dramatically improve your iPhone footage. I can definitely see myself taking this on my vacations (it’s much easier to transport than a drone). It dramatically upgrades any other footage I’ve shot in the past from my iPhone.
Just temper your expectations — you’re not spending $300 on a tiny Ronin. You’re spending $300 on a beginner or hobbyist piece of camera gear, and you’re just getting an introduction to the capabilities of Ronin.